Purpose: To show the convergences between Josef Mitterer’s non-dualizing way of speaking and actor-network theory. Method: Comparative analysis of Mitterer’s non-dualizing philosophy and actor-network philosophy. Findings: Profound convergences between the two accounts may lead to a unified account that could redefine traditional philosophical problems. Benefits: The paper extends the range of Mitterer’s non-dualizing philosophy and actor-network theory enabling both to face new problems. Among them, extended non-dualizing philosophy may undergo empirical investigations.
Purpose: The text searches for possible uses of a daring postulate to reject dualism, formulated by Josef Mitterer. Furthermore, it explores the inconsistencies of dualism and its remnants in three projects: Richard Rorty’s neopragmatism, the strong program of the sociology of knowledge, and radical constructivism. The final aim of the argument is to demonstrate that a very interesting incorporation of Mitterer’s postulates is possible, and that it must take the form of a consistent antiessentialism. At this point the article presents Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory. Findings: The article underlines the specific role of the so-called other side of the discourse – which, according to Mitterer is fabricated by the dualizing mode of speaking. Such an instance is a priori essentialized and it plays a crucial role as a tool for settling arguments. The text traces the role of this instance in the concepts mentioned above. Benefits: Through the use of Latour’s constructivism, the text indicates that there exists a fruitful empirical (non-speculative) research program, which was projected in accordance with Mitterer’s postulates.
Context: Traditional research on the fiction/non-fiction distinction is the fruit of an essentialist methodology in which the procedures of ontologizing and textualizing are assumed as obligatory. Ontologizing and textualizing form the basic discursive technique, in which analyses are focused on the object as the semantic centre. Theory of literary fiction – deeply rooted in Alexius Meinong’s theory of non-existent objects – is object-orientated and, as a result, is always ontologically involved/engaged. Problem: The re-description of the fundamental literary problems as a kind of epistemological experiment for which non-dualizing philosophy is a foundation. Considerations are aimed at providing answers/solutions to the three following issues: 1. Is it possible to connect non-dualism with a literary discourse about literary fiction? 2. What difference does the non-dualizing perspective make in comparison to a philologically-orientated discourse? 3. What difference does the non-dualizing perspective make in comparison to the constructivist approach to the problem of fiction? Approach: Mitterer’s non-dualism is considered from both the context of ontologically-orientated discourse about fiction and literary research and the context of constructivist discourse about fiction. Results: Mitterer’s non-dualizing conception may be considered a foundation of a radical non-essentialist way of thinking about literary fiction. As a result, the philologically-orientated research on literary text, focused on the explanation of its semantics, would rather move towards a culturally-, pragmatically-, and/or sociologically- orientated type of discourse. The notion of (literary) fiction should be reformulated as follows: fiction is not the reason for interpretation; fiction is the result of interpretation because the description comes from the object of speech (from-object-cognition). Implications: This is only an introduction to the project of a potential non-ontologizing discourse about literary fiction. Therefore it should be developed and discussed as the option for the dualizing type of the discourse as it still stirs up a lot of controversies.
Problem: The question of the moral and social effects of non-dualism has not yet been clarified to the necessary extent. The relation of truth claims, power and violence has been simplified; critical questions of non-dualist practises have not yet been addressed. Approach: By discussing relevant philosophy and political theory, this paper draws the attention of non-realists towards the issues of power, conflict and discourse rules and asks to rethink the issue of the pragmatic justification of non-realist epistemology. Findings: (1) Constructivists, as well as the non-dualist Josef Mitterer, are critical of the discursive effects of truth claims. Yet, neither constructivism nor non-dualism solve the power issues that are ascribed to realism by constructivists and dualism by Mitterer. Even if participants abstained from truth claims in discourses, many of the power issues would still be prevalent. (2) The question arises of whether a practical difference between non-dualism and dualism exists. (3) There is a tendency in constructivist and non-dualist theory to regard any form of influence on others as illegitimate. This tendency is not sound. Instead, the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate power is necessary in non-dualism as well. Implications: Constructivist and non-dualist theory need to scrutinise statements about the moral implications of the respective theories and to emphasise power issues not solely by extrapolating from epistemology, but by acknowledging the social dynamics of discourses and conflicts. Non-dualist social scientists could contribute to the discussion through empirical analyses of the effects of the use and the debunking of truth claims.
Context: Non-dualist philosophy is no longer novel. Arguing against the distinctions between thought and action, theory and practice, language and objects has been a staple of the debate for decades, and Josef Mitterer offers another approach to the problem. Problem: Non-dualist philosophy is beset by a problem: it is trying to argue against a separation of “ideas” from the life-world while staying exclusively on the side of ideas. It offers a philosophy seminar argument against the bread and butter of philosophy seminars. Results: The paper argues that non-dualism in practice should be represented not by philosophers but by everyday life sociologists; not by those who argue against theory and idealisms but by those who simply ignore them. Non-dualism, however, is a useful tool when theorists have to be confronted practically; this, I argue, is its value, and in this debate, non-dualism is welcome. It is, however, a value that should not be overstated.
Problem: The underlying assumption of all feminist theories is that in order to achieve our emancipatory goals we have to resolve the so-called female subjectivity problem first. That is, we have to answer the question of what is (is not) the nature/essence/main feature of being a woman. The debate about where and how we should look for that essence seems to be endless and it still continues in contemporary feminist theories. This stalemate blocks the initial political and social power of the whole feminist movement. It also seems to contradict the idea that philosophy can serve practical purposes, which was a driving force behind feminist theories as such. Solution: While analyzing contemporary feminist theories we can discover that they are dualistic with respect to the cognitive situation. Using tools taken from Josef Mitterer’s philosophy and the idea of emancipation developed by Bruno Latour, I want to consider the idea of avoiding stalemate situations in discussions on female subjectivity. I claim that this strategy can be more effective in achieving certain practical goals that are important from a feminist point of view. Benefits: We are able to show that the aim of our theoretical activity is not to agree about what a woman is and what kind of woman we are going to emancipate, but rather to define which problems should be solved in order to improve the situation of women. We just have to learn how to formulate the description from now on of initial matters of concern that is acceptable to all those involved in a given dispute.
Context: Non-dualistic thinking is an alternative to realism and constructivism. Problem: In the absence of a distinct definition of the term “description,” the question comes up of what exactly can be included in non-dualistic descriptions, and in how far the definition of this term affects the relation between theory and empirical practice. Furthermore, this paper is concerned with the question of whether non-dualism and dualism differ in their implications. Method: I provide a wider semantic framework for the term “description” by means of George Spencer Brown’s terminology in his calculus of indications as laid out in Laws of Form. The connection of descriptions and distinctions enables descriptions to comprise reflections and language as well as empirical observations. Results: Non-dualism can be thought of in different ways but still has essential elements in common with dualism. Implications: Non-dualism, as well as dualism, is an argumentation technique suitable for specific situations, but without significant differences in implications.
Purpose: To develop a realistic view that integrates the idea that knowledge is a constructive process. Problem: In the controversy between realism and constructivism, both sides have often misunderstood each other. Many realists still consider constructivism as a kind of idealism. And constructivists often assume that realists believe they have direct access to things as they really are. It seems necessary to clarify the statements of either side, to rule out some misunderstandings, and then to discuss anew the central epistemological problems. Solution: A version of realism is proposed that takes into account constructivist ideas and objections. Realism as presented here is not opposed to the idea that cognition is a constructive process. According to this view, reality is something we presuppose in any attempt to attain knowledge though we can never be certain how things really are. Having knowledge amounts to the preliminary judgment that some hypotheses seem to correspond to reality better than others. In addition, it is demonstrated that a constructivist position that reduces the claim to knowledge even further does not solve the problems better but creates new ones. Finally, Mitterer’s non-dualizing view of descriptions is discussed. It is argued that description necessarily presupposes something different from language.
Summary: Weber’s book… does away with the overcome, but seemingly indispensable truth concept behind every medium. Reporting reality does not mean rigidity but accepting changing (the) realities by reporting. The new “basis theory in media studies” (p. 351), which is the aim of the author, is due to find a widespread field for practical use – or at least it should, in a world not biased by dualistic thinking.
Purpose: To show that the idea of non-dualistic thinking is of great value for some of the core problems of media philosophy (which often lacks the radical approach of Josef Mitterer’s concept). Method: Non-dualistic philosophy, introduced by Mitterer, has a lot in common with other thinkers’ discontent with the traditional way of describing the subject-object relation. Their differences and the impasses of phenomenological, structuralist and psychoanalytic media theory shall be examined to show whether and to what extent non-dualism could do better. Findings: As sociologists and some media-philosophers are already adopting some principles of non-dualism without a real framework, non-dualistic thinking offers a new insight into the way that consent/dissent is manufactured in a world where most descriptions are given in a mediated (i.e., non-interpersonal) form. Implications: If we re-establish the personal freedom of gathering knowledge individually instead of “getting nearer to the truth,” the way of looking at the escapist power of media also has to be reinterpreted. The early distinction between Lumiére-like “documentation” (= truth) and Méliès-like “fiction” (= perception open to alternatives) could be another dualism, which should be expurgated by the application of Mitterer’s concepts.